tv Columbia University Forum on Immigrant Children CSPAN April 23, 2019 9:38am-11:50am EDT
attorney general william barr will testify before the house and senate judiciary committees on the mueller report. live wednesday and thursday may 1st and 2nd on c-span 3, c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. columbia university hosted a forum on immigration policy and how to protect immigrant children. participants included npr's marina hinojosa who spoke about her experience as a child facing separation from her parents. her speech was followed by a panel including the aclu's lead attorney challenging the trump administration's immigration policies and the executive director of the nation's largest immigrants rights coalition. the annual public policy forum began with remarks from former new york city mayor david dinkins. this is just over two hours.
[ applause ] thanks very much. i'm delighted to see so many of you here. i have some remarks which i think i will not use if you'll forgive me and if the author of these remarks will forgive me. i just want to say how pleased i am to see so many of you here. i look out and see a lot of friends, and i'm so happy that you're here. as you know, we've been doing this for a few years now. it's an awful lot of fun for me. i get the credit, somebody else does the work.
i hope that you enjoy this as much as i do. i can tell you that were you to stand here and look out and see yourselves, you'd be very pleased. what a group. and to resist calling you by name one by one, which has been my want over the years and staff gives me hell for doing it. one, you're going to leave out somebody and two, they really don't want to hear that. but i'm so pleased to see so many friends here. this is a special night for me. as i say, somebody else does the work and i get the credit.
so who follows me here? somebody tell me. who? maria comes out now? oh, well. hell, i've got to -- if i'm introducing the keynote, then let me revise all that i have said and speak of her. she is a dear friend and i'm so pleased at her willingness to do this. as you might imagine, she's in great demand. and this doesn't have to be at the top of her list. but that's what friends are for. so i'm so pleased that she's here. maria, where are you? are you backstage?
[ applause ] >> this is a very special lady. i kid you not. >> thank you, mr. mayor. >> you're on. >> i appreciate that. >> i'll go down here. >> hello everyone. it's great to be here. thank you, mr. mayor. i love that. seriously, then the mayor said, maria, where are you? i mean, that's like new york 100%. it doesn't get any better than that. to get a mayor to just say, hey, maria! i'm so honored to be here delivering the 22nd annual david m. dinkins leadership and public policy forum keynote. specifically, for mr. mayor david dinkins, i appreciate that he says i'm a dear friend. but mayor knows that actually when he was mayor of the city, we were sparring a lot of the
time. that's what i think is so fabulous. even as a young journalist and i was taking on the mayor and he calls me a friend. that's kind of wonderful. thank you to mayor michael nutter, a new friend. dean general owe. also professor fuchs, my long lost friend and my son. who has come to see me speak. i love that. so i want to make it clear that i am not speaking approximabout. although i have been covering immigration for the entirety of my career, this is not a speech about policy. so if you were thinking policy speechy, not going to happen. it's a lot about the stories. so i'm going to tell you, when i first came to this campus, it was 1979. there were no mexicans in new york city.
there were like ten of us. it was me here at barnard and then on one 14th street there was a pizzeria and a mexican guy that worked there. there were no tortillas. i had to bring them from chicago or have them shipped. all of that stayed the same until 1986 when i actually, one morning when i was traveling to work at 3:00 in the morning at cbs news and in spanish harlem and i heard ranchera music from a bodega. i said that's it, new york city is going to change forever and it has become a city of mexican immigrants of which i am one. that's kind of my trajectory, how i end up in new york, coming to barnard. i'm going to tell a story the way i have been telling the story for the longest time and then i'm going to do the recent adaptation. i'm going to condense it. almost at every speech when i'm asked to talk about my own life, i tell the story that i came to
understand about 25 years ago when i was writing my first memoir. actually my memoir about my son raul who is here. i asked my mom that story, mom, how did we, in fact get here? my father, may he rest in peace, was recruited by the university of chicago to be a medical researcher. my mother and the four of us, the kids, came six months later from mexico city via plane, changed planes in dallas and then we were going to take a plane from dallas to chicago. my father had been given his citizenship immediately and we were all given green cards. so when we get to the border -- i'm sorry. when we get to the check-in at dallas after having landed from mexico city. my mom, who was dressed to the nines, it was the early 1960s when you flew on planes with heels, pearls, four kids under
the age of 7. like, what? and she gets to the immigration agent who looks at all of our green cards, forgive me if anyone is from texas i'm about to do a texas ak september and the texas immigration agent says well, miss hinojosa, i do see your paperwork is in order, you have a green card and your four children have green cards, this is a fine thing, ma'am. there's only one little problem, ma'am. we're going to have to keep the little one. we have to keep the little one in quarantine right here. my mom said, what? got a little bit of a rash. we're going to keep her in quarantine. the rest of you can go to chicago. my mom, small like me. she had this voice that came from her gut. it came out of her hands. she didn't really do this. but wrapped around the biceps with her voice. she said, sir, my name is -- hinojosa, my husband is dr. raul
hinojo hinojosa. he has been invited to come to this country. we all have green cards, i am coming with my four children. do you understand, sir? he said yes, ma'am, i do. come on n come on in. right, i know. that's the way i've been telling the story for over two decades. and it's such a funny story. people love t my mom, she stood up to an immigration agent. whoa. this past summer of 2018, i was in an airport. i live in airports. i'm on my way to one as soon as i finish this speech. the phone rang and it was my mom. my mom doesn't often call me. she knows i'm in transit a lot. i call her. she called me. i answered. she was in tears. i was like, mommy -- but in tears. mom, what's going on? >> they tried to do it to you.
this was you. i said what are you talking about x mom? she said the children. the children that they're taking away, they tried to do it to you. that was you that they tried to take away from me. and you have always laughed at that voice, she said. now i realize. that was my voice of trauma when he told me he was going to put me into quarantine, she said. i lost it. and that voice that you make fun of as that herculean voice was my fight or flight. i was fighting for you. i was fighting for you. so who would have thought that in all of the years that i've been telling my immigration story that it would be in the year 2018 that i suddenly realize those children that we heard crying, they could have been me. that mother who is ripped apart was my mom. and the question that i've
always asked myself which is i know you were born in mexico and you're an immigrant. what is this overwhelming need to tell the story of immigrants and now i realize, because maybe perhaps this is what trauma looks like. stays in your brain. in my sense, for the positive. i've dedicated my life to telling these stories. yet, we continue to learn. because in preparation for this speech, i spoke to professor esther fuchs. i was telling her this and she said oh, my god, maria, the quarantine. that's what they did to the immigrants in ellis island. and me, a mexican immigrant from chicago who never thought i had anything to do with the immigrants who came on to this island that is my home now, now esther fuchs taught me, you were them too. the number of people who were not let in because they were put into quarantine. my question is, what exactly
were they going to do with me? where were they going to put me in 1962 in the airport in dallas? so this this is not new. this is not new. we have to have context. they took the children away of our founding mothers and fathers, our native american, our indigenous people. they took their children away because they said they were savages. they took the children away of the men and women who were enslaved because they said they were property. they take away the children of immigrants now. it's not new. it has absolutely gotten worse.
the biggest challenge we have for telling this story as journalists is we're not allowed to tell this story unless you have deep sources who are prepared to give you access to a child. and many aren't because of all of those ethical responsibilities. so we can't tell this story. they're held in private detention facilities that are run by government officials and you can never get in to see and talk to the children. how is this possible that we as journalists cannot tell this story, that we are prohibited from telling this story. nine blocks away from us there
is a shelter where they hold these immigrant children right here. they're building one in downtown philadelphia. they are opening these shelters everywhere. so open your eyes and begin to ask questions. wouldn't you want someone asking questions if these were your children? so i travel in the world with my eyes wide open. i travel in this country with my eyes wide open. i'm going to share something that i just recently experienced. i flew down to the border. at the airport in mcallen when i arrived at 11:00 at night i saw a group of children. i have been seeing now children in airports. they're being transported. they're being moved. some say they are being reunited. others call this government trafficking. others call this kidnapping of children. what we do know is they are
being taken from place to place. if you're in the airports, you can see this if you open your eyes. so i saw a group of children, young men. it was 11:00 at night on a wednesday night. they were all wearing the same colored sweatshirts. kind of think maybe a soccer team. so i went and i spoke to the adult and i started asking questions and he said who are you. i said i'm a journalist. he said you can't speak to these children for their own safety. remember that with we've been told that before. the japanese american citizens were being put into internment camps, being imprisoned for their own safety. we are not allowed to speak to these children for their own safety. determined by who, i asked? they whisked those boys away as fast as he could, the chaperon when he realized i had
questions. on the return i flew out of mcallen and spotted another group of kids. i was like is that a family, are they brothers and sisters? actually no. the look on their faces maybe is the thing that you can spot because they look like the pain of the shock has been so profound that now it's better if they just don't feel anything, if they just travel the world like zombies being moved from place to place and not spoken to. so i saw a little girl. she happened to smile at me because i looked at her. i saw her. i made eye contact with her on purpose. and she smiled. and then i said, oh my god, are these -- these are the kids. these are the kids.
these are the kids that this president has said we are full. these are the kids that he says are animals, infiltrators, drug traffickers, gang bangers, human traffickers. these are the kids. to speak to a little girl who's 10 years old who doesn't know where she is or where she's going and all she can say is they separated me from my uncle. we came together. so family separation policy continues to this day. it is a challenge when you have a president who lies on a daily basis to believe anything. but the family separation continues. and the family separation, the children coming goes back to elian gonzalez. do you remember what happened when that child was taken from
his cousin's arms and forcibly reunited with his father? that used to be what the united states of america stood for, as complicated as that moment was. at that moment we were reporting about the fact that the numbers of children already were being tracked by the government and they knew they were going to be increasing. why? because when i was a student right here across the street there was intervention by this government in central america, in el salvador, in nicaragua, in guatemala. so those areas were being destabilized. so already men, women and children were coming at the time. right here on this campus in the early '80s is when we were understanding what was happening with the u.s. central america relationships. if you talk to people now, they're like central america, united states relationship,
what? how could we forget? there is no historical responsibility. so it is a complicated situation. somehow it seems normal now that we know there are children who are being held in cages. how did we get to this point? that's my obsession. or maybe it's that we never left the other point where i started, taking children away. whatever it is, somehow in our country this issue of immigration -- and we know this, we're academics, we have studied this. but the issue of making a population to dehumanize them purposefully, why is it that we can all be here okay, living another day when we know that children are being taken from their parents?
the normalization of it? the responsibility of our news media to report on it every single day, does immigration do well for ratings? i'm asking you difficult challenging questions. but the fact is that i worry about how this moment will be captured, that in the history books the questions will be posed just as they were posed when this country and this government, not this administration, but this government turned away jewish refugees from the st. louis who were coming in search of home and docked in cuba and were rejected, docked in the united states and were rejected, docked in canada and were rejected. only i think 98 were allowed off. and so many of them were returned to their deaths. is this the way we will talk about this moment? it is uncomfortable. it brings me no joy to make
these kinds of comparisons. we are at a point where the dehumanization is such that we are okay with pregnant women sleeping on gravel. we know they are okay with children sleeping outside on the cement in mexico when they should be legally allowed into the united states to apply for asylum. this is a crisis that this administration has created. yeah, there is permanent damage. what we know, what we've covered is that ucla neuro scientists know that when children are exposed to trauma, it is impacted in their brains forever. it doesn't go away. it's like a plaque buildup.
it happens and it just stays there. i asked the professor to explain this to me, how do the children then get over this. she said imagine you have a child whose arm was hacked off when they were a baby. some children will grow up and be able to function perfectly without their arm, though not use one or get another one or incorporate. but other children will never be able to recuperate from the loss of their arm. that's what we're talking about. we don't know which of these kids will make it or not. for me, an essential moment is something that i learned actually not from my radical latino studies professors at barnard.
this one phrase, there is no such thing as an illegal human being, you know, which people think she must have learned that. she's a radical latino studies -- no, no, no, that phrase, there is no such thing as an illegal human being, was told to me by the person who could not be any more different than me. may he rest in peace, what do you think about the terminology illegal immigrants? he said please do not ever refer to a human being as illegal. there's no such thing as an illegal human being. they may have committed an illegal act but they themselves are not illegal.
the first thing the nazis did was declare the jews to be an illegal people. it is the first step in dehumanizing. so the consequences of dehumanizing, my friends, fellow colleagues, journalists, americans, this is what it looks like when over and over and over and over and still in some of our mainstream news media people are referred to as illegals. what does it matter then if they're fed or not, they're just a bunch of illegals? what does it matter if they're sexual assaulted? they're just a bunch of illegals. i understand, it's really challenging to be a mexican immigrant woman journalist in the united states today. but when i feel challenged, i think back to my american heros. i understand my role as a journalist who is an immigrant, who is a woman of color in this country and i think back to my
heros. frederick douglass. if he could be born into slavery and publish his own newspaper, certainly i could do that work. if harriet tubman could have liberation dreams, certainly i could do this work. as journalists of color, i feel like we are watching the canaries dying in the mines and we're screaming they're dying and oftentimes the response has been to us can you calm down, can you calm down. can you calm down ma, marimaria? maybe you're a little bit too immigrant y, maybe you're a little bit too mexicany. maybe you're a little bit too close to the story, calm down. i'm not going to calm down and i'm not going to calm down not because i'm a mexican immigrant. it's because i'm an american
citizen. that's why i'm not going to calm down. [ applause ] >> it took us 50 years to get here. it took us 50 years of challenging the narrative of us as being an immigrant country and this is where we are. it's going to take 50 years and each one of you, each one of us to be front and center in this fight that again originated with the hatred toward native american bodies, followed with the hatred of african body and is the hatred of immigrant bodies now. my role as a journalist, even though i'm very tough, because i had to raise my hand to become an american citizen, so i take
this very seriously. but i also move in this world, i hope, with a tremendous amount of love. i love this country. i actually love this campus. i love being here to speak to you and sharing my truth. and the fact that we're talking about this makes me very proud of being an american citizen. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> have a great conference. thank you so much. thank you. [ applause ] >> it's my pleasure to be here to welcome you all to our panel discussion this evening for the
mayor dinkins public policy forum. and to thank maria for that extraordinary keynote address and for all that she does every day as a journalist and as an advocate. it was really extraordinary to have her with us tonight painting that portrait of the experience of immigrant children right here in the united states today. so you all know what our topic is tonight, protecting immigrant children, a policy crisis. so it should come as no surprise to all of you attending the dinkins forum that we view a government's responsibility to protect immigrant children. we have also known from clear empirical evidence that the
trump administration is not protecting immigrant children at the border. and, yes, this is a public policy crisis. this evening's discussion will focus on how this crisis was precipita precipitated. what have its consequences been for the health and well-being of immigrant children and what can we as citizens do to change current policy. it's equally important for us not just to understand this problem but to do something about it. and i want to offer some interesting and what i think relevant data before we begin. that is data as in facts, facts, something we are often not shared with by some elected officials in this country today. so first on the general problem of unauthorized immigrants, so
based on u.s. census bureau data, unauthorized immigrants are now a smaller share of the u.s. foreign born population than they were in 2007. at the same time, the share of legal immigrants has risen. in 2016, unauthorized immigrants made up 24% of the foreign born population as compared to 30% in 2007. so fact number one, unauthorized immigration to the u.s. is declining. did you hear me clearly? declining. and has been since 2007. that's according to the census bureau. second, according to a january
2019 public opinion survey, 62% of americans say immigrants strengthen the country because of their hard work and talents. only 28% say immigrants are a burden on the country because they take jobs, housing and health care. and of course you might guess there is, however, a strong partisan divide. but fact number two, most americans have a favorable view of immigrants and that has been getting more favorable over time. that's according to the pugh public opinion survey. third, then it comes to separating children and families at the border, there is strong opposition from a broad based public. according to the university of maryland critical issues poll
just fielded late in march of this year, 65% of respondents say separating families is unacceptable. even for republicans this is more challenging. only 49% of republicans say separation is acceptable. fact number three, most americans think president trump's policy of separating families at the border is unacceptable. so just as the public's view of immigrants in general has become more positive and the number of unauthorized immigrants is actually declining, our president is choosing to ignore facts and public opinion implementing some of the most draconian policies toward
immigrant families and their children in our history, and at the same time challenging fundamental principals of our -- principles of our democracy. this evening's panel really could not have been chosen by mayor dinkins and linda and myself a little bit, i think, in a better way. they will help us understand what is actually happening and what we can do about it. and it's my pleasure to introduce all of them. first, lee gellerd. he's argued dozens of civil rights cases and cases on
national security and federal court and the supreme court. during the past two years he's brought several ground breaking challenges to the trump administration's immigration policies. and i have to say because we're here, he's also a graduate of columbia law school. dr. irwin redlynner is a director and founder of the national center for disaster preparedness at columbia's earth institute. he also holds a professorship in pediatrics at the college of physicians and surgeons right here at columbia. some of you may know dr. redl n redlynner's work. he is one of the most extraordinary advocates and practitioners who was a cofounder of the children's health fund and has been both
bringing health care and influencing public policy around issues of children's health for decades now. i can think of no one who has done more or cares more about children in this country than dr. irwin redlynner. you know what? you're the doctor. he's the mayor. and i say you're right about politicians. there's no nobody who cares more about children than mayor dinkins. that is so true. [ applause ] >> michael nutter was the 98th mayor of his hometown of philadelphia. i wish we could claim him for new york now but he doesn't want to let go of philadelphia. he was a two-term mayor there
and had to leave office because of term limits. some mayors abide by the laws of term limits. after serving almost 15 years in the philadelphia city council, he rose to the position of mayor. that's actually pretty hard to do. i'm not sure how you did that. maybe the way you fixed the fiscal crisis in philadelphia and actually got reelected. he's like the only mayor i know who could do something like that. we are honored to have him right here at columbia. he received his degree from the wharton school at the university of pennsylvania. i guess that's why you're probably going to always be from philadelphia, huh? and finally, my friend steven
choi, who is the executive director of the nation's largest immigrant rights coalition right here in new york city, comprising 200 immigrant organizations. the mind reels when i think about the work you do with the immigration coalition and the fact that you can get that extraordinary group of not for profits to agree about anything, because that's one of the hardest things to do for those of us who know and have tried. steve has really pushed the envelope on the work of the immigration coalition. the influence is not just here in new york city but it's a national policy as well. he received his jd from harvard law. we claim him for new york anyway. it's a pleasure for me to
welcome this panel to the david dinkins forum this evening. i want to start with lee because i think he'll be able to help us set the stage for really understanding what's going on. lee, your work at the aclu has been critical in ensuring that immigrants have recourse in the courts even while president trump has tried to establish punitive immigration policies often through executive fiat. and currently you are the lead attorney challenging president trump's family separation policies, part of the topic of what we want to talk about today. could you provide us with some context for this court case and explain to us what president trump's policies toward undocumented motherins and children really are at the mexican border and what actually happened to current policy? and can you explain how this
divergence actually what happened? that's the easy question to start us off tonight. [ inaudible ] >> is that mic on? >> no. >> it's on. >> you know, i'm not going to sugar coat it. we are in a tough period for immigrants. everyone knows that whether it gets even worse, we'll have to see. in the last couple of days there have been reports that it will get worse, that family separation may well restart. we'll see. but even if it doesn't restart, even if things don't get worse, they've been pretty bad. i want to start by saying that immigration is a difficult issue in a lot of ways and reasonable
people can disagree about a lot of macro immigration policy and not everyone agrees with the aclu about its views on certain macro immigration issues. but i think family separation is one of those issues that should not be a partisan issue. and i think that was really the shocker for the trump administration. i think they assumed that they had dehumanized the immigrant population to such an extent that when they started family separation, there wouldn't be pushback. as we all know, there was pushback. i have been at the aclu for more than 25 years. the family separation issue is the closest i've seen to having a real civil rights moment. obviously it doesn't rise to the level of what we saw in the '60s but it was a real civil rights movement with people taking to the streets, protests. there were op-eds. and it was not partisan. laura bush came out and wrote an op-ed in the "washington post"
pushing back, the pope, conservative reverends. the administration finally issued an executive order. it was filled with holes and that's why the court cases still needed to go on, but the president did issue an executive order saying no more family separation. as far as i know, that's the only time the president has ever backed off on a domestic issue. it was because of the public outcry. i think any civil rights haur will tell you that there's only so much structural lasting civil rights change you can see through the courts. it has to be public outcry. the public showed that it did care, that it still will speak out. that's the challenge for us is how to keep that going. in terms of the specifics of family separation, what we had been hearing in the fall of 2017
is that families have been separated but we weren't sure how many, how often. the administration was denying that they had a policy. so we began looking into it. finally i got a call in the beginning of february. this is 2018. saying that there was a con mot who had lost her child. i went out there to get a sense of what was happening. we had heard there might be 400 to 500 families separated but we hadn't been able to talk. it's aoften a difficult thing t get to see families at the border. i talked to the mother. she had lost over 100 pounds. she was gaunt, hadn't been sleeping. she recounted the story of losing her child. by then it was about 3 1/2
months. maybe you have seen her and her daughter on the cover of the "new york times" last summer. she explained how she fled for her life with her 6-year-old daughter from the congo. finally got here. contrary to what the administration was saying that you won't lose your child if you come to a port of entry and apply for asylum legally, she did exactly that. she came to a port of entry, applied for asylum lawfully with her daughter. four days later they brought her into an office and brought the daughter into a separate office. they handcuffed the mother and said you're going to be going to a detention center. at that moment she heard her child screaming, mommy, please don't let them take me away. they took the child to chicago. they didn't tell the mother where her daughter had been for four days. by the time i saw her, her
daughter had had to celebrate her 7th birthday by herself in a chicago facility. the mother had no sense of what was going on. she had spoke to her daughter a few times but neither one had any idea of what was going on. we filed that lawsuit on behalf of her initially because we knew it would take a few more weeks to file an initial class action and this mother needed help immediately. and the government said, well, we thought maybe she could be a trafficker. of course, the mother looked identical to the daughter but also the daughter had been screaming mommy, mommy, don't let them take me away. the judge finally cut through all of it and said if you were really unclear, did you do an dna test? of course the government hadn't. they gave her a dna test and of course that was the mother. i was at that reunion in chicago when they were reunited. it was as raw emotionally as anything i had seen in doing this work. we then filed a national class action, ultimately got an injunction in june of 2018.
by that time, there were 2600 families that had been separated. i think we expected to see maybe a few hundred and we also hoped that this 6-year-old was an aberration. it turns out, as i'm sure all you know, there were babies and toddlers who were taken away. it's now been reported that there are at least 3,000 families separated. even worse a few months ago there was an internal investigation by an hhs watchdog and they found that there may be thousands more families that have been separated that were never reported publicly to the court or to us. the government has taken the position that it's too burd burdensome to identify these children and they don't want to do it. the court put its foot down. now the government said we'll try and identify them but we want up to two years to do it. it's outrageous.
you take a 2-year-old. that's two more years they're going to be separated from their parents. the numbers tell one story but i think it's the little acts of individual cruelty that really tell the story of family separation. i think the doctor will go into more about the actual medical effects on the children, but it's been the worst thing i've seen in the 25-plus years i've been doing this work. little stories. one child, a 4-year-old boy needs glasses and the parents of very modest means scraped together the money to get him glasses and get him a special glasses case because they knew if his glasses ever broke, they wouldn't be able to afford a second pair. when they came to take away the little 4-year-old he was wearing his glasses but he didn't have his glass case. all day long all the mother thinks about -- and i think my parent here can identify here with this -- all she thinks about is does my little boy have
his glasses, can he see? another father told me, you know, all i wanted is to be able to tell my 7-year-old boy they were going to take him away and let me brace him for it, give me five minutes. instead the guard just came up and screamed it out loud we're taking you away now, didn't even give the father the courtesy to tell him. an 18 month old baby. the mother made them strap the baby into the car. the boy was screaming and crying. they wouldn't let the mother soothe the boy. she had to close the car door. the boy turned his head around to see the mother walk around to get into the driver's seat. well the car just pulls away and the mother is watching this 18 month old and crying and looking at his mother. it's case after case where 3, 4, 5-year-olds would be begging,
please don't take me away. it got so bad that at one point the guard started telling the parents, we're just taking your child for a shower. oblivious to how that resonated with world war ii. it's just been as absolutely harsh -- and i'll obviously leave the medical stuff for the doctor. but when i visit the kids, one family that was one of the named plaintiffs, the mother told me the little 4-year-old now that he's been reunited just keeps asking are they going to come and take me away again. and that kind of vulnerability and that kind of trauma is what all the doctors and the whole medical community said would happen and now sort of seeing it concretely. it's not just the children that have been traumatized. it's also the parents. because the parents, many of whom are very young parents, had their children ripped away.
when the children are reunited, they are so angry at their parents because they don't understand, obviously don't understand at that age that their parents couldn't help them, so they see their parents watching as they're taken away and they're screaming, don't let them take me and the parents are standing there helpless just saying be brave or even the parents may even be in handcuffs. and the children get back to the parents and they're so resentful, constantly asking why didn't you stop them from taking me, didn't you want me. so for these parents, their whole relationship with their child has been distorted. and the parents are wracked with such guilty of whether they should have brought the children. obviously they had no choice. that's one of the things that's so horrible about the policy is not just that it's cruel, but it's gratuitous. there's no way these desperate people were going to not come. every parent i met i asked them would you have come anyway if
you knew their child was going to be taken, they all just sl shrugged and said what choice did i have, i couldn't let me child be killed. gratuitous cruelty is what the "washington post" called it early on and i think that's exactly right. family separation is one thing, unfortunately. it may be the thing that's gotten the most attention but there is a lot of cruelty going on at the border. what we're seeing now is a lot of focus on asylum seekers, making fun of asylum seekers and audiences laughing. i think this weekend there was an audience laughing when the president was making fun of asylum seekers. people are not remembering their history. now central americans need help, but it was other groups in the past. the president has a very simple narrative that sometimes -- now he's moved to we just don't have any room for anybody. but before he was saying well
just go apply legally and that can fool a lot of people. he has a big bully pulpit and that seems like a simple narrative, if you wanted asylum, go apply legally. what you see in tijuana is the people are lined up for months and months because they're only processing a few asylum seekers each day. they're refusing to send resources there. so the parents and children a sleeping in the most squalid conditions in tijuana and mexico. you hear the republicans say they can apply legally. that's the challenge, for us to get out those facts. people sometimes don't even know where the port of entry is. the port of entry could be 500 miles away and they're on foot with their 4-year-old. we have a lot of work to do to
make sure we can continue telling a human story about what's going on. ultimately i can go on tv and talk about the rule of law, but people are going to click through that. we need to tell human stories. that's why family separation broke through, because we were able to tell those human stories. we were able to get those families out there and let people see exactly what was happening. i think that's going to be the challenge going forward is to tell human stories about the asylum seekers at the border because it can't all be done through the courts. if we talk just about the rule of law and abstractions, i don't think we are going to break through. there's too much noise now. that's really our challenge, is how to keep the public engaged as much as us going into court. thank you. [ applause ] >> now mayor nutter, when it comes to understanding the
issues of immigrants facing our country, we have a lot to learn from your work in philadelphia and as president of u.s. conference of mayors. so i'm hoping you could tell us about how the mayors are handling directives from washington that don't comport with their own policies and maybe talk a little bit about sanctuary cities and how mayors are really dealing with the current federal immigration policy. because we do know some of these families being separated at the borders, kids are being sent to cities including new york, all over the country. >> sure. thank you very much. lee, thank you for laying things out. i'm going to answer the question but as you were going through that recitation, what kept going through my mind -- and people know i'm not an attorney but that's never stopped me from giving perspective or advice.
it just seems to me that the level of detail, in fact, that you all are able to layo out --i mean, it would appear that the united states has actually created and generated a significant number of human rights abuses, which literally may be more appropriate either at the u.n. or in the world court. i don't know how some of these folks do what they do. and we know from other circumstances, you know, just following orders often is not a legitimate excuse, that there just has to be a human component
to all of this. you're right, television did bring us, as television has in the past, it changed the tide of the vietnam war, it changed the tide of the civil rights movement. people heard stories, but when they saw in their living rooms every night body bags coming home from vietnam or dogs and fire hoses turned on african-americans down south, the lynching and the beatings, the american public changed their mind. i think we've seen that shortly after the current occupant of the white house came into office with the muslim ban. cities exploded at the airports and the folks there protesting were not all muslims. we continue to see these activities all across the united states of america. by sheer coincidence, the guest
speaker in my class today was former home land security secretary jeh johnson talking about the border, talking about sanctuary cities, talking about the former program secure communities talking about the priority enforcement program. and now i don't even know what the program is with regard to cities. when i was in office, secure communities was in place. there are two issues that i raised directly with president barack obama. i loved virtually everything they were doing. we worked in great partnership. but one of the two things that i told the president that i could not support was secure communities because it was overly broad. you've got a mother or a father go out to take their kids to school, go to the market, get pulled over for a broken
taillight and the next thing you know they're being deported from the united states of america. you can't chase everybody. it's an inappropriate use of resources and there are some very dangerous people, some immigrants, some home grown, some citizens forever. and so i'm against criminals. whether you've been here for generations or you got here last week, i'm against criminals. and there are some very dangerous people here in the united states of america. if we're going to spend our time and energy and resources, we should be trying to get rid of or take out of the country if they're not legally here very dangerous people. but folks who are undocument ed without paperwork and came here fleeing the insanity of what might be going on in their home country but have committed no other crime and are not a danger to society, we should be trying to figure out how to get them on
a path to citizenship, to do the right thing that many want to, and at least recognize what they had to go through to get here in the first place. nobody was chasing me at 55th in west philadelphia. i became a citizen because i was born here. my parents were already here. so there was no long journey. the journey was from the hospit hospital. most of the mayors across the countries are completely ignoring directives out of washington, d.c. we don't want people going underground. we want our citizens to have a good relationship and we want those who are with us, however they arrive, to be able to take care of themselves and their families. so while i was in office, i issued an executive order
directing every department and agency under the executive branch that they had to provide services to anyone who was in the city of philadelphia regardless of their documentation or lack thereof, that we were not going to be an arm of the federal government, that it was not our responsibility to check and see who had their papers in order. but if you're here and you need service, you're going to get service. i told the president that i could not support the secure communities program, but if they ever changed it and made it more narrow that we would reconsider. not because of me, but through leadership at the u.s. conference of mayors and with tens of mayors across the country i think we ultimately convinced the president and secretary johnson to change the program, which they did, to priority enforcement, which was targeted much more narrow going after people who had already been convicted previously of a
variety of different serious violent crimes. and that if you asked us, is this person in your custody and told us why you wanted to know and could show that they have been convicted of certain enumerated crimes, we would let you know approximately when they were being released. we would not hold anyone past their date, because that is illegal. and if you really want someone, go get a federal judge to sign a warrant, which any mayor or the keeper of a prison or jail would recognize. but just having a detainer was not enough. i think cities will continue to resist. many of these overbroad efforts. we are not trying to drive our citizens underground. we want them to have a good working relationship with law
enforcement. and the lawsuits will continue whether at the state or city level and there is a resistance to these policies. ultimately i think the american public will continue to reject family separation as in hhumane and an inappropriate national policy. but the fights will be on the ground in cities all across the united states of america. >> thank you, mayor nutter. [ applause ] >> so yeah, the fights will be on the ground in cities. that lead us to our next panelist, steve choi who is doing this work on the ground in cities through the immigration coalition where he has 200 member organizations and many, many other organizations that he's brought into his coalition. so steve, can you tell us -- i
think two things would be really important for you to talk about. how are the current policies impacting families in your coalition, in new york city? and can you tell us a little bit about coalition building? your partner organizations, how you've been engaging them and whether you think new york is an outlier or there's a model here for other cities. because i think this part of the work is as important as the lawsuits which are going on, which are very important. >> yeah. so thank you and thank you, mayor dinkins, for inviting me in. i just want to follow up on one thing and note that i do think cities, whether they're led by democrats, whether they're led by republicans, often are the most sane elected officials when
it comes to immigration. because they see firsthand how important immigrants are, whether they're undocumented or not. this is something i like to tell folks. there was a mayor -- as mayor nutter was talking about sanctuary cities and things like that, there was a mayor of new york city who felt so strongly about, quote, unquote, sanctuary policies. he went out and said, you know what, if you are undocumented and you're here and you're hard working, we don't want you to feel like you're a fugitive, we don't want you to feel like you're a criminal. so he defended his sanctuary city policy all the way up to the supreme court. that mayor was not bill de blasio. it was not mayor dinkins. it was mayor rudy giuliani. it may not be the rudy giuliani that we see on tv today. maybe he needs to take michael
nutter's class. that's probably not enough for him right now. i think he needs a little bit of a stronger treatment. but i think it goes to the fact that mayors who are seeing on the ground what kind of impact immigrants can have -- and i see this across the country, i see this across the state. whether you're a democrat or republican, you understand that immigrants are not criminals and they're not sucking up public resources and they're not anything that donald trump says that they are. so i actually think that a lot of the political work has got to be done by mayors. taking you whack to the first question really about how immigrant communities have been affected, they have been affected in so many ways. those have been really big and they've also been small. i mean, the fact of the matter is the white house, this administration's immigration policy is run by a racist.
let's just be frank about this. steven miller, the architect of the trump administration's immigration policy is a white supremacist. let's not beat around the bush. [ applause ] >> and you see this in ways both big and small. in the cancellation of daca. and of course how folks with temporary protected statuses are being endangered. deportation rates that are happening, i.c.e. officers in court ready to arrest folks coming to a house of justice in these big, visible ways. but they also happen in smaller and arcane ways. policy changes that say that the spouses of h 1 b visa holders, professionals coming over, policy changes saying the spouses can't work. why? there's no good reason for that except racism and white supremaci
supremacist. public charge, another thing. doesn't get the headline news. doesn't get the tweets. but public charge is an example of how steven miller has figured out how to use the regulatory power of the federal governments in a way to actually attack immigrants. public charge, what it is is that it says that essentially if you are receiving benefits of any kind, doesn't matter if they're federal benefits, then that's going to jeopardize your ability to become a legal resident. it's going to jeopardize your ability to adjust your status, become a citizen down the line. so the number of people who are potentially affected, it's a regulatory change. it's not a bill passed in congress. it's not an executive order. but that one small change intimidates and scares so many immigrants from getting food frr
health care, after school care. when we think about the way that immigrant families are affected, it's in these very big and visible ways in family separation but it's also that these small ways. we cannot forget that because that is the true measure. it's not run by logic. you all know this already. it really is undergirded by a fundamentally racist and why supremacist policy and we need to call that out for what it is. it has been a very long little bit more than two years of being in this separation. and the world has changed. immigrant communities in new york have been devastated by this administration's policies. but the silver lining and i think one that we can build off is that there are many people who see themselves in the fight than ever before. most mayor nutter and lee mentioned two moments that really stand out to me.
it's incredible sort of being in the middle of them. one was exactly one week after trump took office. i don't like to say his name. he took office and one week after he took office, 4:48 p.m. on a friday he signed into law the executive order, the muslim ban executive order. so we started to hear later that night that people were being detained at jfk of all places. later the next day on saturday on a cold wintery january saturday we heard that jdozens f people were being detained at jfk and we knew there was something so fundamentally wrong. so we started to tweet about it, started to tell people to go to jfk. more and more people start to go to jfk airport. and i'll never forget it. by the time i went out to jfk that night, there were more than 5,000 people who had made their
way to jfk airport. the atmosphere was electric. there were people singing, chanting, saying that muslims were welcome here. it was something that i'd never seen before. really trump had made the impossible happen. he made people go to jfk of their own accord. nobody does that. the atmosphere was so electric, i remember i got on top of this transformer box in the parking lot of jfk terminal 4 and i said, you know, we have just begun to fight. we need everybody to come out to battery park the next day to protest this muslim ban. the response that we got was tremendous. the next day literally 12 hours after that there were more than 20,000 people who came to jfk. that was a civil rights moment. and the second civil rights moment was in the wake of family separation where again we realized that there was something different going on and we called for a march to go over the brooklyn bridge.
30,000 people showed up that day on a hot sweltering june day. this is something that we've never seen at the new york immigration coalition. we used to organize for weeks and sometimes months and we would get a couple thousand people. now all of a sudden at the drop of a hat you could tweet, you could create a facebook event and tens of thousands of people could show up. that's the silver lining. a lot of them are not first generation immigrants and they're not second generation immigrants, but they understand there's something so wrong and immoral about this administration's policies that they're ready to come out and march with us. what we need to do, though, is we need to translate that into the next step, because i'm going to be totally frank here. the kind of appeal -- i mean, folks believe in immigrants and they think that immigration is good for america, but that support is nowhere near as deep
as it needs to be. if we want to make that real, if we want to actually have the political vote and the political voice so that elected officials like this administration will not engage in these policies, we need more and more people, the people who come and march with us or the people who come out to jfk, they need to stand up and say, you know what, when you're talking about immigration, you're not talking about those people over there that the administration is trying to dehumanize or to other-ize. you're talking about me. you're talking about me as a third generation, as a fourth generation, as a fifth generation immigrant. it's only if we do that and we can translate the kind of civil rights moments that we've seen into a lasting political movement that says they're gone to be there for immigration thick and thin, that in the long run is going to be the way that we actually fix this. our immigration system was broken long before donald trump came to power. he is just the symptom in so
many ways of the narrative around immigration. he in some ways is not the cause, he's the symptom. in order to vanquish this disease we need to have a long-term movement around every auditorium has got to say, when you're talking about immigrants you're talking about me. >> thank you. very powerful. our final question for the first round here is for dr. redlenner. you know, you have been at the forefront of supporting children's health, especially for minority and under served populations, and now you're in the thick of this immigration issue and the separation of children from their families. you've been focusing your expertise and your energy on this now, and what i would really like you to do tonight is talk about the impact of this on
the health risks facing immigrant children at the border and what you personally have seen and how this is really affecting both the families and the rest of us who have to watch this on tv and other forms of social media. >> thanks, easter. congratulations to the fellow panelists for great remarks. i don't know how many of you saw the editorial in today's paper called "immigration incoherence." did you miss that? probably did. it was in the "wall street journal" and i'm sure -- you know, wouldn't necessarily look at that. it was a very important editorial which described absolute incoherence of the trump administration immigration policies. i'm mentioning that as a prelude to the answer to your question,
because i'll say this, that every policy, every regulation, every law has human dimensions, and what we're seeing here is an absolute mess of public policy that is resulting in some of this extraordinarily difficult position that we've put children in and their families, by the way. i think we made an important point. this is not just about children. it is about their entire families. my concern is not just about the health of these children, it's about the general well-being of these children. it's not just about children, you know, getting to be healthy or maybe educated, but what are we doing to make sure that we've put no barriers in the way of any child in terms of becoming successful and actually thriving. what we've seen over this last year in particular with these policies that have been enacted by the trump administration, has been a horrible onslaught of adversities that were
deliberately, intentionally focused on innocent children and their families. i've been working in the field of, you know, medically underserved children since 1971 when i was the medical director of americorp clinic in east arkansas. not too long after a very tumultuous period of time during the '60s, and having grown up in the kennedy/johnson era, i told colleagues that in 10 or 15 years from 1971, clearly we would end racism, clearly we would end poverty or problems accessing health care for children. i was 100% convinced that was going to be the case. here we are, a lot of decades later, and we're still degree with one incredible, unbelievable situation after another that affects children. last may, a year ago, i wrote an op-ed saying that the headline
was, "cruelty in these policies was basically child abuse by government." and i think it now. on may 8th, attorney general jeff sessions held a press conference, may 8th of 2018, in which he viciously attacked the parents of these children who were being separated. his speech included comments like, if parents are going to smuggle, smuggle was the verb he used in reference to children, their children across the border illegally, then they deserve to pay the consequences and the consequences were very defiantly, almost gleefully jeff sessions saying, we're going to do this as a disincentive. we want to deter immigration and this is how we're going to do it, by separating children. one of the most overtly cruel
statements, in addition to the actual acts that i have ever heard in my career. ironically that very same day, melania trump, that same day, announced her new program or focus on child well being. i thought it was incredible and i wrote, they need to have a heart-to-heart conversation, these two people, because they're clearly in different universes and i guess that goes without saying. the issue about this policy of cruelty, which has the ramifications and i'm going to tell you about it in a second clinically, the problem is the reality is, it doesn't work. it does not work as a deterrence. we have not slowed people coming across the border, seeking refuge and asylum, and opportunity in the united states of america. it simply doesn't work. i was at an i.c.e. facility for women and men in el paso last september. i spoke to 42 women, almost all
of them mothers, and almost none of them had seen their children in weeks. they had no idea when they were going to see their children, where they were, they were limited to very short phone calls, some of them with older children and some of them with their spouses. i said to them, i have this on recording, secretly recorded on my spy pen, you're not going to tell on me, are you? i said, would wany of you -- thy were all in a group, these 42 women, would any of you not come to america if you knew that consequence was going to be separation of your children. every single one of them said they still would have come. i asked them if their neighbors and friends would come here knowing what you're going through and by the way this i.c.e. detention center was an out and out just a prison, and every one of them said no, nobody we know would not have been deterred by these crazy policies. so there we have this horrible situation of a cruel policy that
doesn't even work as the president and stephen miller and jeff sessions wanted it to. two deaths of children under the age of 10 in december, unfortunateyou'll remember. this is the ultimate tip of an iceberg and what's under that tip is extraordinary damage that we've done to lots of children. and what happens is first of all, the forceful extraction of a small child from the arms of a mother is immediately traumatic and deeply traumatic. every one of us on this panel knows what that looks like. you don't need to be a clinician to under how deeply troubling, how deeply traumatic this is for any child. and the policies, remember, some of the detention centers for children included that workers in those centers -- by the way, many of whom were quite well meaning and i saw a lot of really caring professionals in these detention centers, but in
some of the centers the workers were not allowed to pick up and comfort a toddler who was crying for a parent. why? there was some i guess connection to the fact that there was some exploitation of older children. everyone knows that. and they extrapolated that concern to young children who could not be comforted by the regulation of the detention center. i mean, people in my field were -- we were flabbergasted, not just people, not just professionals, what human being, what parent, would be unaffected by watching a baby and a toddler crying for a parent and a worker not being able to pick up and hug the child and hold the child. i mean it's one thing after another. so what happens to children lore exposed to this? it's not pretty. it's a phenomenon well received now over the last 10 or 15
years, called toxic stress, which means a level of stress that's virtually intolerable and has to be dealt with immediately. because when you're stressed in a bad way, some good stress in children, it's normal for a child to cry getting a vaccine, but -- and that stress is alleviated by a caring parent and other factors. we learn to deal with stress. but not toxic stress, not toxic stress. toxic stress over a period of time is releasing stress her zones, cortisol, adrenaline and so on, the long-term release of those stress hormones causes irreparable changes in the physiology and sometimes the anatomy of a child over time. the brain architecture is changed by toxic stress in those her moans. the other conditions which, besides the fact that we can have developmental interference and depression, are you waving
at me? no. he's holding the one minute thing. so what happens is that the physiological changes associated with high levels of stress hormones leads to high blood pressure and so on. we cause chronic inflammation from the stress hormones, and by the way, the amill rags of that is not going to be possible for a lot of these children. the reunification of these children with their families, first of all the atrocity of a u.s. government agency saying we can't find the parents, we don't know where they are, we lost track of them, we simply cannot unity -- how many kids are not reunified? >> we don't really even know anymore because there's so many. >> yeah. i mean one thing after another that really shakes the foundation of people who want to love our country and its values.
we care about that. that does cross partisan lines. this partisan in the white house is a different animal altogether. it's just absolutely horrifying. so we're dealing with a generation of immigrant children who are going to suffer consequences -- by the way those consequences are not limited to those children and their families. those are societal consequences. children who grow up under so much stress with so much psychological trauma early on are not necessarily on a trajectory to grow up happy, successful, healthy, thriving adults. it's not going to happen. they left trauma and they came here for another big whopping dose of more trauma at the intentional hands of people representing us, be representing us. so going forward, you know, we're going to do i guess one of the things that lee and i have talked about, is the -- what are the recommendations from professionals, mental health or
health professionals, what is it we need do for these children now to help make sure they have a shot at getting a happy, normal life. that's tough. we're working together trying to figure that out. the second thing is, we have to fix immigration. we have to fix it. we have an insane system. 103,000 people came across the borders not through regular entry points in march. february with was 76,000. people are overwhelmed. customs and border protection agency or border patrol is absolutely overwhelmed. i'll tell you something, they're the culprits, but i also feel deeply sorry for them. these are law enforcement officers who have been given a job to deal with an unmanageable number of people coming across the border. i'll tell you something, we haven't really talked about publicly yet, two things happened recently. one is border patrol went to the head of the american academy of pediatrics and said, what should we do. they actually did that.
and the head of the aap, american academy of pediatrics wanted to see the border patrol officials. they reached out of all people to me, what would be the protocol that the agents should know about and implement so that children who are sick would not fall through the cracks. as we speak i'm working on that with them. there's lots of problems. homeland security, a lawyer that i know, who in california, very senior position, told me what about all the people who aren't exploiting children, who are trafficking them. we need to deal with them. i said to her, why are you going to deal with that very small minority by pushing the vast majority of normal, regular people, fleeing the worst possible conditions you can imagine, who want refuge in america. is that fair? i didn't know that you could just wipe away the issue of
innocent until proven guilty but apparently you can. >> the protocol is pretty simple. don't separate children. >> yeah. >> last point i just want to make is that many of the panelists have said we're all in this together and we have to find our way to do something about this atrocities, these atrocities happening under our watch. that means continuing the legal pressure, making sure health professionals are doing whatever they can to protect these kids. it also means the public and i think this is what you were experiencing, steve, which is remarkable, and the media, i just want to end with a comment about the media. there's something called the center in new york city. it's a center for i guess mostly unaccompanied minors and a mom came to new york, i think in september, her two children somehow ended up in kuyoga. she was entitled to get her
children. she was legally here. and they kept stalling and stalling. she was hoping to get them by thanksgiving because we drifted into november. they didn't -- they couldn't get released for whatever reason. now it's christmas was coming. i want my children for christmas. and wasn't happening. so i called up a "new york times" reporter named meredith jordan, who has written quite a bit about this subject, told her what the story was, she called them up, this was like wednesday or something before christmas, they said, all right, we'll take care of it. by friday not taken care of. called her back, meredith, doesn't have the kids. calls her back up and says, listen, i'm doing a story on why you're retaining these children. what is the rationale and what's going on there. in four hours those kids were released. the problem with that is, it's a microcosm. it's two kids. we need this kind of action on
the policy level and for every single child and parent who is caught up in this american disaster. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you dr. redlener. before we open it up for questions, i just want to go one more round with the panel. in the direction that everyone took us in the last part of his remarks, while it's very important to understand the problem, to document it, to identify it, those of us who are concerned more broadly with the policy also want to do something about it. want to be part of how we make the change. both at the individual and micro level as we talked about, but also at the policy level. i know you've all touched upon this to a certain extent, but i didn't hear anybody talk about
elections. i heard litigation, but i want to hear more about what that means. organizing very profound and important, but the trapslation of public opinion into public policy here with this president and this congress, is something that i think we need to talk about. then also more about are the mayors organizing in places where this is happening on the ground and in the cities? are we using the public effectively in getting the -- getting some real changes into this policy? i started intentionally with the public opinion data. this is one, as everybody mentioned, where we have really strong, broad-based support for change in the public. i would like everybody to take a shot at address anything part of this kind of pragmatic question
that i think is important for us to address. let me start with lee and we'll go down the line. >> yeah. so i will leave the election part to others. i think sort of on an individual level, there are lots of things to do. i do want to continue to emphasize how important it is to have public outcries or that people attending rallies, people speaking up. i do think it's critical. as i said before, this is the one place where the president has backtracked on a domestic policy and it was only because there was so much outrage, but more importantly, it was partisan outrage. i think critical to figure out those places where you can say look, maybe we're not going to get macro immigration policy done this year, but let's at least stop some of the cruelty and talk to people in a way that can transcend those lines.
having said that, i do think that immigration is a tricky one. i don't know where all those polls came from. i think on family separation, there was broad and deep opposition. i don't know that on immigration the opposition is so deep. you know, you may ask, do you generally think immigrants are good. >> it was pew. >> i don't think it registers how deep the opposition is, that how much people are willing to go to the mat over immigration. if you ask them basic questions, they say yes, immigrants are good, i don't think trump should do all this stuff about immigrants, but are they willing to go to the mat on them. i think that's a much more important issue and that's really what is the challenge for us because immigration can get very difficult and all the numbers and the statistics. even what irwin said about the
system being overloaded, i actually would respectfully disagree a little bit. there's no question we need some changes and there's a lot of people, but what the statistics that don't come out are that we have less people crossing the border between ports of entry than in the 2000s. you know, i was in court and the government was making these points and i said look, you know, in 2000, we had 1.6 million people crossing between the border. we're not going to come anywhere close to that, but more importantly, the agency's budget now is $19 billion. it was about $5 billion back then. >> wow. >> there's 19,000 agents. the apprehensions if you play it out, each agent would only have to apprehend one person -- 32 people a year, that's how many agents they have. they don't even know what to do with the money. and more importantly, they're not actually -- they make this big deal about how now it's families. well the truth is, that decreases the danger and it
decreases how much effort they have to put in. all the families are doing when they talk about they're crossing illegally, they're taking one step over the border because they don't know where to go, sitting down, and waiting for an agent to come up to them and say, i would like to apply for asylum, i'm fleeing this or that. i want us to be careful about buying in to the notion that there's a crisis at the border, that's there's so many people. a hot lot of it is this administration is not allocating resources in a way to deal with it so that they can have those images on tv, look how many people or throw those statistics out. you never hear the administration say our budget is $19 billion, we have 19,000 agents, it's quadruple what we used to have when there were even more people coming through. that, along with that i think we have to work hard to make the opposition deep, as opposed to superficial and broad.
>> so i agree with what you said. it's interesting, again, that secretary johnson quoted many of the same stats that you did. i think the issue is how many folks can get processed and therein may lie some of the crisis. if it's a thousand it's one thing, multiple thousands, you know, the system can get overwhelmed. i want to go back to -- so many parts of this. because there are so many different messages being sent out, right. so i mean, at one point we send the united states army and national guards from states for this caravan of 5,000 or so folks on foot barely with shoes on or anything on their feet, women and children, and what -- what was the united states military going to do? >> right. >> with them?
these are men and women, brave men and women of the military, who go into service, primarily to defend us from, you know, all kinds of folks who actually do mean us harm, but not 5,000 women and children. it just scares the hell out of the american public that somehow -- the current occupant of the white house, that's what i refer to, that we were being invaded by these folks, which just scares the hell out of people. that's one. second, back to steve's point, the other-izing of people and the demonizing and convincing the american public that the other reason we have to keep these folks out is because the reason you don't have a job is because they're going to take your job, which is nonsense. there are jobs in the united states of america that go wanting for employees and there are jobs in the united states of
america that are taken by people that basically white folks don't want. so they're not a threat. i don't see -- you know, kenneth square the mushroom capital of the united states of america, i do not see droves of white folks driving out saying i want to pick mushrooms. no. that's not happening. so all this demonization of the folks who are coming here whose stats on violence are much lower than homegrown americans, not a violent threat to us, and so there are mixed messages about how much opposition people -- well these are the people who are going to take my job, so how can i -- white people have to decide how much opposition do you want to have to these policies? where is the religious community, the family values people, on the separation of
children from their families? what we actually saw this, you know, african-americans, we have some amount of experience with this because 100 plus years ago we were separated from our parents. it's the same thing over and over. the same thing that happened in germany, the same thing that happens in a variety of other circumstances. we have seen this numerous times before. it is plays out of the same playbook. so the number of constituencies have to decide, what is right and what is wrong. people fundamentally know that these policies are wrong. the question is, how much do you want to stand up to the current occupant of the white house and these policies that are demonizing people, making us look insane around the rest of the world, and has confused the american public about what they
should be doing or what people should be saying. as i said, at city level, we -- mayors don't have time for this nonsense. you have services that need to be provided, people are here, and, you know, they're trying to do the best they can. if you're nowhere near the border it is very hard to understand what all of this is really about. >> mayor nutter, a quick follow-up, because you know the political scene best of everyone on this panel. >> i'm not sure about that anymore. >> you do. and understand washington better than most of us, i think. do you have any sense, is there a chance in this idea that you put out that people have to stand up, that republicans in washington will actually at some point stand up around this issue, particularly around the issue of separation of immigrant kids? >> only if their constituents
demand it. >> okay. >> back to lee's point. it was bipartisan opposition -- i mean, you know, regardless of who you are and what your party and philosophy is, it might be a little hard for some folks when they went home, you know, that night and they've got children and somebody in the family says, mom, dad, what in the hell is going on here. you know, what are you doing. i think it makes it a little uncomfortable when you go back to congress the next day and you're talking to your colleagues, like we know -- quietly, they'll say, we know this doesn't make any sense. they are fearful of the retribution from a psychotic at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. he needs to grow up. >> okay. steve? >> yeah. so about elections and about organizing i would say two things that are actually what
lee and mayor nutter were talking about. first of all, i'm not worried about a congressman who represents this district or the jerry nadlers of the world. i'm not worried about them pr they're good and they're on our side. i'm not worried about new york city as a whole, maybe staten island sometimes. most of the time i'm not worried about new york city. are people ready to actually go to places -- and there are a lot of places outside new york city -- and are they ready to do the work? are they ready to say i am going to be part of this movement and that means actually going to places like long island, right. i'm not worried about jerry nadler. i'm worried about lee, the congressman from long island like a mini trump, trump mini me, parrots everything that trump says, he talks about ms-13, you know, i'm worried about him. as mayor nutter said, he needs to be scared. what can we do here in new york
city to make sure that he, lee zeldin, out of long island is feeling a little scared? laura concern, the nassau county executive, a democrat, she decided to take i.c.e. and put up an office on the grounds of a public hospital out there so that people want to go get health care you have to walk by the i.c.e. office. what are we doing to make sure laura is scared? right. that's the question. the question is not how do we make sure elections -- the question is not how do we make sure jerry nadler is good on our issues. the question is how do we make sure all these other places in new york state, i'm not talking about alabama or mississippi, long island, i'm talking about westchester and the hudson valley, places like that, that's the question. if we want to make sure that things like family separation policy never see the light of day again, then we need to be committed to making sure we do
what we can do so that the lee zeldin and john kakto, and people like that, feel the heat and that they under their constituents don't do it. one of the things we're doing right now is around driver's licenses and that's the second point that i would make. people will throw down around family separation. they will do that, right. i'm sure the polling numbers of that are great. the polling numbers around other policies, though, around immigration, this goes back to lee's point, the single biggest thing that new york state can do to keep families together right now is to pass driver's licenses, is to make sure that new york state makes driver's licenses happen. folks used to be able to get driver's licenses and then in the wake of 9/11 there was a huge xenophobic backlash and it became outlawed and you needed to show a social security number. overnight there were
undocumented immigrants that could not get a driver's license anymore. if you are driving upstate or anywhere for that matter without a license because you have to take your child to the hospital, because you're going to work or because you are going to meet your kids' teachers at school and you get caught driving without a license you will get put into jail and then a lot of times that jail will call i.c.e. and then boom, you will be inside the deportation industrial complex. the one thing that new york state can do to support and keep families together is to do driver's licenses. what's the polling support on that? not great. and if you actually talk to people and walk them through the process, the support for that jumps dramatically. what are we doing to make sure there is support for immigration that's not an inch deep and a mile wide. how do we make sure that people are throwing down and saying, immigration is my issue, not just when it comes to family separation, not just when it
comes to muslim ban, but on a bunch of different immigrant issues. that is the way we start to exact the political price, right. when governor cuomo and other folks come by, we say you know what, you're coming to the upper west side but what are you doing around driver's licenses? it's by throwing down around immigration issues that are not just the high-profile ones of the day and also figure out what we can do to organize in places that are less politically amenable to immigrants. that is how we're going to actually make change on the federal level and make sure that things like the family separation policy die a, you know, die the death that it's supposed to die. >> thank you. and finally, irwin, do you want to elaborate a little bit on your earlier points of what you think -- >> sure. >> people should be doing? >> first of all, let me just say
something about this issue of why people are not getting more engaged even with the challengeses are. i know i'm not the only one that's overwhelmed by the things we need to throw down on. it's climate change, it's choice, it's tax policy, it's reversing regulations that protect the american people. i don't remember ever feeling so overwhelmed by issues each someone with of them is crying out for urgency and priority. i think that's something that activists in a variety of years need to try to come to grips with. you don't know where to turn. it's impossible to watch the news. every day is a firehose of stuff coming at us, which we keep saying how much times have you said i can't believe it, this is unbelievable, in the last two years. i can't even say the words anymore. i just did. anyway, i think that there are real issues here, not to mention the fact that we're going to get another round of child separation policies coming down in various guys.
one of them, the other one is called binary choice, which steve miller is cooking up this idea if you're a family you're given a choice, you either can agree to being separated from your child, once they get apprehended, and we will facilitate your asylum hearing, or we'll keep you all in custody interminably. that's a horrendous way of really intimidating families to kind of be caught in this horrible trap concocted by these folks in the white house. i do stand corrected in terms of the numbers. obviously true what lee was saying, but in my own defense, what i'll say is that i don't care how many agents there are, or how many people are coming across, i can tell you because i've spoken to many of these agents, they are overwhelmed and terrified after those two children died in such a public
furor rising that they actually don't know what to do about that. they need something and it's not going to come from the administration. i think it behooves all of us to at least help make sure that children's -- the children experiencing mental health disorders are recognized and are identified and getting the help that they need. coming back to the political thing, i don't know, i would love to hear what you have to say about the overwhelming number of issues on the table right now. >> i absolutely agree. there's always an outrage, a new outrage every day, but at a certain point, you know, we've got to translate protests into lasting political movements. we've got to make choices. i guarantee you, you know, our ability to get 30,000 people out for a march it's huge. we are not going to have the political power to be able to actually make a difference if we don't translate that into a lasting movement.
some of that is on us. some of that is on a lot of other people. some of that is on all of you. how do we actually say that we're going to commit and work on a long-term political project in which we are going to throw down not just for one march but an extended period of time. that's what the right wing does. that's what they do. they're in it for the long hall, the haters, right. they're in it for the long haul. we he need to be ready to do that same thing and to actually say, you know, you're going feel the political price and the political heat for not being good on this issue. >> i know we're getting ready to go to q&a. >> yeah. audrey, could you collect the questions, please. >> yeah. the challenge is, goes back to what doctor was saying, a couple of us have mentioned this, there is a new thing every day. it's just hard to keep track. and which, you know, i mean you can't die on every hill as they say.
how many battles are you going to find on a regular basis with these folks. i think this is all by design. certainly don't want to give them too much credit for being smart. throw whatever out there on a regular basis and if you're outraged by this today we have something else tomorrow which will distract you from the thing you really cared about yesterday because now you have this new thing over here that's going to drive you crazy and that is a process and a pattern of activity to keep the american public so confuse and so distraught that you at times are just paralyzed. >> i totally get that and i totally understand that. i think if folks can take it upon themselves and figure -- and have ways to engage in a way that changes the narrative, because right now the narrative is, those folks over there and having these problems, right. even in new york state, those people over there, those
immigrants there, they want this. right. that's the problem with the driver's license thing, is people say, i don't want to give those people driver's licenses. it's not about giving anybody anything. one of the things that's been remarkably impactful is, you know, there's this group called the workman's circle like a progressive jewish group and what they've done is they've organized canvassing efforts in long island in the district of state senator anna caplin. all of a sudden she's not just hearing from latinos and immigrants that driver's licenses needs to happen. she's also hearing from jewish constituents in her district. that has real impact. earlier this morning, for example, i read that, you know, we have 30 votes. we're trying to get to 32. 32 is the magic number to make driver's licenses happen. we have 30 votes in the senate. anna i guarantee you is not one of them. by participating and joining a
canvassing effort where you get hundreds of postcards, it's not an overwhelming number n a district in long island where folks are going and talking to communities that they're familiar with, that little -- that's one way to have a lasting political impact and i think that's one example. totally get it. there's a firehose of trauma and outrage that happens on a daily basis, but there are ways to actually engage in a way that changes the narrative, not just those people over there want this, but this is something that affects, you know, that affects me and i believe in and i'm going to throw down around this. >> i agree. >> can i throw out one more question here because i think, you know, this changing the narrative and changing the way people are thinking about what issues are important to them when they vote, seems critically the way we need to go here. but i'm struck right now, we have a -- just take the new crop
of congress folks in washington, coming from what was considered, you know, a left wing grassroots movement, i don't see immigration and this issue particularly immigrant children, at the top of the list of what anybody is talking about. i saw the green new deal. i saw, you know, i don't -- i follow all the presidential candidates and it struck me as we're talking here, one thing we know people have opinions, but those are not necessarily the opinions that inform their vote, that there is only a couple of issues that can translate into who they're going to vote for and where the pressure is going to come from. what's wrong here. we needs to be done to move this up the scale, both at the elite level and grassroots level. i was seeing this like you,
primarily a grassroots problem pushing that way. as i'm thinking and listening, i see this also as an elite problem and on the left as well, where you would think this would be a top priority and i see it receding as a priority. >> yeah. well, i do want to note that the house of representatives did introduce a bill, hr-6, that's supposed to address the situation of daca recipients, the dreamers, and temporary protected status of folks with tps status. the two legislative sponsors of that are two of the three are actually new yorkers. it's velazquez and clark and nancy pelosi came for an event where we announced this a couple weeks ago. i don't want to make it seem like the house hasn't, you know, taken action. >> that is the old guard. not one young, new activist. >> that absolutely is the old guard. >> in that crowd. old and good, don't get me right
here. i'm part of that old guard. >> here's the thing though. i think people think of health care as an issue that they will translate and they will turn out for. they think of, you know, that's clearly identified. i'll be honest with you, i think people on the left and i think democrats see immigration as not one of those issues, right. that's the challenge that we face. we need to demonstrate -- that's what i've been saying, we need to demonstrate if you don't vote the right way on immigration, that is actually something that's going to drive turnout and we're going to hold our votes on. i don't think it's there yet. i think it's a reality. we have to figure out a way to get it there, in the midst of all these other issues that arise. >> well, i think on that note, at least we've got a -- one
significant question from a member of the audience and a couple more coming. we'll do these questions together and that will wrap us up for the evening. this question is for lee. in 2015, the greatest number of immigrants were asians, 12 plus million, as this person states, which i can't verify. are there differences between the latin experience and the asian experience in separation? >> in the family separation i think there are because the family separation was occurring at the u.s./mexican border and the southwest and so overwhelmingly it was latino immigrants from the northern triangle. we weren't seeing separations at airports or in the interior.
now there were certainly some people who were not from the northern triangle who entered through the southern border. as i said, the lead plaintiff in the case was a congolese mother who made her way all the way there but it was overwhelmingly latino immigrants. >> so i've been holding this, but let's be frank. if people who are not of color, and their children were being separated coming from canada, norway, france, germany, europe, or a variety of other places, people would be up on the roof. >> right. >> there's no way in the world that if a custom and border
patrol was separating white children from their families that the american public would ever put up with this kind of nonsense and it with would to the go away until the process was fully reversed. you have the secretary of the department of homeland security of the federal -- of a congressional hearing ultimately have to admit -- this is the one i guess was forced to resign -- that they had no idea how many children they had and then got into a debate three weeks ago with a member of congress about what's a cage. >> right. >> i mean, come on. there's just no way in the world that people would put up with this kind of nonsense but for the fact that those people from those countries half of the public may not know actually where they are and that they are, you know, of latin origin. >> right. at the end of the day i think the whole history of immigration
is about race. you know, i think there's probably no way to separate race and immigration. >> were kids separated at ellis island? >> yes, actually. >> that's a good question. i don't know in the same way -- >> but usually related to illness. >> right. >> right. >> all right. >> we have like three last questions here. i'm going to put out these three questions and then we'll begin with irwin and with lee, so just comment on any aspects of these three questions, all of which i think are important and interesting questions. there seems to be a struggle breaking large issues down to actionable items for, quote, normal people, i guess we're not normal people up here. how do we better bridge that gap to get people to take action, is the first question. what is being done about
identifying and connecting separated families, which is also an important question. and finally, the courts have been an important arm for pushing back on the worst components of family separation and other immigrant policies. should we be worried given the massive number of appointments that are being rushed through the senate that the courts will change. so we have three significant questions here from you and i'm going to start with dr. redlener and we'll work our way down. just take any aspects of these questions. >> this idea about making fundamental changes in how our country operates on some levels very, very daunting. we had slavery, jim crow, institutional racism and it's not going away. and we have many, many african-american children, for example, who have been deprived
of normalcy and the ability to attain the future that we expect for every american and that is something that's going to have to -- it just has to change. it's been incredible. like i said, i've been talking about this for 48 years now. but that said, i think my sense of the only hope here, nobody is going to agree with me, is that we need a stealth candidate for president of the united states that will take this on much like l lyndon johnson did. nobody had how far he was going to go on the civil rights movement and probably wouldn't have gotten elected if they did know, same thing with fdr. we need some very charismatic democrat or republican who will get into office in the usual way and turn around and say, i'm going to lead america out of this horrendous morass of the anti-science movement that's going crazy, dealing with the immigration changes, climate
change, et set ter prap i don't see how it's going to happen otherwise. that's due to the fact that as a lovely, you know, middle-class progressive family, we cannot figure out what the hell to do next, which issue are we going to grapple with, and as -- my heart and soul on this immigration issue but i deal with children who are suffering extraordinarily across the country. racist based. it's maddening to me. the same with climate change. it's not going to matter what we do with the other issues if we end up destroying our plan fet. if someone has a good way of prioritizing this i would like to -- of leaders who are going to get up there and say thanks for electing me, here's what my agenda is. that's what trump did from the absolute opposite direction. >> steve? >> you know, i would actually like to punt on that. i'm curious to hear what lee has to say in terms of that specific
questions about the courts and how that's changing. i see it happening an i'm -- it really gives me pause and worry about how our legal system is going to work. >> do you want to pick up on that and we'll end with mayor nutter. >> yeah. on the court question, i think it's a very good question. i mean everyone focuses on the supreme court and understandably so and i think it's going to become harder for us to win civil rights cases on the supreme court. but the lower courts are also becoming a concern. there are a lot of appointments being made in the lower courts and i think that may be really where the action ultimately is because only so many cases can get to the supreme court and most civil rights cases are in the lower courts and will never get to the supreme court. how many appointments this administration makes is going to be a significant issue. the other question i just wanted to take two seconds about it, is
the question about how do we make things actionable for people. i think that's an extremely important question and point and i think that's one place where the aclu got caught off guard, both with the travel ban, but also then with family separation even more so. i have gotten so many unsolicited letters and calls saying what can i do. it can be from someone who just says i want to help, i don't have any particular special skills to a social worker to anybody. i don't think we were set up to handle that. it takes a lot of resources even to deal with that intake. figuring out what people can do is very, very important. i do -- i would -- i always say be out there at the rallies and speak out, but people want additional stuff to do besides just writing a check to an ngo. there are places to go to
volunteer. you don't have to be a lawyer to help someone in an asylum case. there are children to tutor and there's certainly places for doctors to help. inning we need to do a better job and i think steven's organization does an unbelievable job of giving places -- people fliplaces to g. if there's going to be this outcry they need to say to someone, here's what you do. you go to this place and help this child or this child needs a backpack. and would you be interested in -- or this parent needs help doing this or that. that's an extremely good question and i think that's one of the other challenges for us, is how to actually give people something concrete to do and i'm -- you know, i want people to reach out to us and i don't want to go into more details about all the things we can do, but someone should feel free to
reach out to me at the aclu. >> and you can write a check too. you can write a check. lee and the aclu might need it, but we definitely need that. >> that goes without saying. >> no, it needs to be said. >> it just need my development officer here to say -- >> mayor nutter. >> sure. make it quick. there was a component within the question which just caused me to think, you know, we just need -- certainly we need the candidates to tell the truth, we need the public to be ready to hear it. we want people to get facts and information, whatever your source is. just let it be factual. and make your own decisions. the new technologies and the, you know, social media and all that, i'm -- you know, i'm all for folks being on-line, but what i really want folks to do is to be in line.
i want you to be in a line on election day. no matter how long that line is, no matter how long it takes, because when all is said and done, elections have consequences. we're dealing with the results of that. if you don't show up it really doesn't make a difference. i agree with the doctor that it would be great to have somebody with charisma, but what i'm also really looking for is somebody with character, somebody with conviction, and a person that is competent and understands what it takes to run a government and get stuff done and make things happen. elections have consequences. we're experiencing it now. if you don't like what's going on, show up. >> thank you so much. >> i just want -- >> i really appreciate everybody coming tonight and a special thank you to this amazing panel. i really feel like not only was
this informative about a very difficult issue that we're facing, but i really feel strongly that there's much that we can all do and i think the direction that the panelists have told us to take really provides something for everyone in this room and everyone that everyone in this room knows and i would like to call on mayor dinkins now to close us out as he always does every year and to say good night. [ applause ] >> i thought i would just project.
i'm pleased to see so many of you here and i almost want to go around the room and call out names. hi, skip. but it's good that you're here because of those persons who are concerned with the issues here discussed i think it can be multiplied many times. they're just not here at this moment. but they're caring, as you are. i think it's so important and i hope you will help spread the word about that which needs to be done and there are people who are doing things like my friends here. it's so important. thank you all so much for coming tonight and god bless you all. [ applause ] >> thank you, mayor. >> thank you.
representatives and senators are at home meeting with constituents. while congress remains on a two-week break. some will be traveling on fact finding trips in the u.s. or abroad lawmakers will return to capitol hill on monday, april 29th. the house plans to work on climate change legislation when they return which is a democratic priority, and the senate will continue the confirmation process for district court judges and high-level jobs in the trump administration. see the how live on c-span and the senate live on c-span 2. >> president trump is skipping the annual white house correspondents dinner again this year and will hold a rally in wisconsin. watch live coverage of the rally saturday on c-span at 8:00 p.m. earp and watch live coverage of the white house correspondents dinner with featured speaker ron chernew. attorney general william barr will testify before both the house and senate judiciary committees on the mueller report
live wednesday and thursday, may 1st and 2nd, on c-span 3, c-span.org or listen with the free c-span radio app. and now panel of journalists who broke story this past year on toxic schools, police corruption, migrant family separation, medicaid fraud and president trump's former attorney michael cohen. the journalists were finalist for the goldsmith prize for investigative reporting which honors reporting which promotes ethical conduct of government than making a public policy or the practice of politics. harvard university's shorestein center hosted the hour and 45 minute event. >> good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. i am director of the shorestein center here at the harvard kennedy school. it is my delight to welcome you all. it's great to see such a